The Great Indoors
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The Great Indoors

Where is the Google Maps for Indoors? Part 2: The Technologies

Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Some upfront concepts

Before we dive into the comparison, we need to clarify some important concepts. These will help you to understand some of the reasoning we provide to support our evaluation:

  1. The same technology but different positioning algorithms can yield very different accuracies. In our evaluation of Bluetooth Low Energy we refer to the classic positioning algorithm using trilateration and Relative Signal Strength Indication (here an excellent article that explains the concepts in more detail). While there are alternatives leading to higher accuracies (e.g. Angle-of-Arrival and Time-of-Flight) these come with substantially higher installation and ownership cost, as well as lower scalability. This is due to the fact that they require a high density of cabled beacons.
  2. Reliability and consistency of indoor positioning solutions is often dependent on calibration. Calibration or fingerprinting is the concept of mapping out venues for signal strength (e.g. WiFi strength at any given point in the building). Calibration is important for some technologies since the position of a person will be assessed based on the signal strength between the receiving device (e.g. person’s phone) and emitters (e.g. WiFi access point). Positioning technologies that require calibration are unreliable. The constant change of furniture and human presence in indoor environments alters the signal strengths.
  3. Many positioning technologies use physical gateways. The role of gateways is to configure transmitter devices, upgrade them and report their status. While gateways decrease scalability due to their physical nature, without gateways it is impossible to support remotely and maintain large indoor positioning systems.

The evaluation

In the table below we evaluate the most commonly deployed technologies against each other. We assign scores to each technology across the eight dimensions on a 5 point Likert scale ranging from Very Low’ to Very High’. The dimensions are stated in their ideal state (e.g. ‘Low Installation Cost’), hence, ‘Very High’ is the optimal score a technology can get across all the dimensions. While this is our subjective assessment, we provide objective reasons for each score.

Forkbeard’s assessment of indoor positioning systems
Forkbeard’s assessment of indoor positioning systems

Key takeaways

Now where does this leave us? We can see that most technologies need to balance accuracy against cost and scalability (remember our upfront comments on different Bluetooth Low Energy positioning algorithms).



Pioneering thoughts and strong visions around indoor positioning technology and its use cases.

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Forkbeard Technologies

Forkbeard is building the world’s leading indoor positioning platform by combining Bluetooth Low Energy and ultrasound technologies.